The best-of-four match between Anna Muzychuk and Tan Zhongyi is now tied with one game to go in regulation.

With her back nearly against the wall in the final of Women’s World Championship in Tehran, Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine came up with a great performance to win Game 3 of the title match against Tan Zhongyi of China.

The best-of-four match is now tied at 1.5 points apiece. Game 4, which could decide the match is Thursday. If that game is drawn, the match will go to tiebreakers on Friday. 

Down one point, and in almost a must-win situation on Wednesday, Muzychuk put together a brilliant attack that annihilated her opponent. 

Anna Muzychuk vs. Tan Zhongyi
Women's World Championship | 0:04:33-0:25:33 | Round 6.2 | 01 Mar 2017 | 1-0
1. e4 e6 Tan returns to the French Defense, with which she did so well in Game 1.
2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 As in Game 1.
3... Nf6 Tax is the first one to vary. In Game 1, she played 3... de4 and had few problems equalizing. Obviously concerned that Muzychuk would have prepared for that variation, she adopts the Classical Variation. Unfortunately for Tan, Muzychuk turns out to be well prepared for this.
4. e5 The Steinitz Variation, named after the first World Champion.
4... Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Both players are following theory and also playing logically.
7... Be7 Black continues her development, though it was not the only move. For example, 7... a6 made good sense.
8. Qd2 White signals her intent to castle queenside. Castling on opposite sides is often a prelude to an attack.
8... O-O 9. dxc5 An important move. Castling queenside immediately would be a mistake because Black could then play 9... c4 and Black could then quickly muster an attack.
9... Bxc5 10. O-O-O Qa5 Still following a known path.
11. a3 Be7 An odd move. There was no threat at the moment, so why retreat? A move like 11... a6, preparing to expand on the queenside and start the attack seemed more worthwhile.
12. Bd3 The first move that is unusual, though it seems logical. More common are 12. Kb1 or 12. h4. The problem with this move is that Black can chase the bishop by playing 12... Nc5.
12... a6 There is nothing wrong with this per se, but if Black had realized the danger, she probably should have played 12... Nc5.
13. h4 b5 Continuing with the normal plan in this type of position.
14. Bxh7+! A bolt from out of the blue. Though this may not be strictly the best move, it immediately puts tremendous pressure on Black and it gives White a good chance to win the game. Muzychuk probably prepared this variation as it would be a bit unnerving to come up with this at the board given the stakes.
14... Kxh7 15. Qd3+! A move that has a few purposes: It prepares to possibly slide the queen across the third rank to the h-file if it should be opened, and White's queen knight can now move without allowing a trade of queens.
15... Kg8 16. Ng5 With the not-so-subtle threat of checkmate.
16... f5 Of course Black must stop mate.
17. Nxd5! A very nice move, much better than 17. Ne6.
17... b4 Black is both trying to counterattack and get her queen over to where the action is to help with the defense.
18. Nxe7+ Nxe7 19. Bd2?! Rb8? Missing a golden opportunity. After 19... Nd5, Black would be back in the game.
20. Qd6 White does not miss her second chance. She now wins material.
20... Qc5?! 20... Qb6 was better, but Black is busted no matter what.
21. Bxb4?! 21. Qe6+ would have been better, but almost anything should lead to a win at this point.
21... Qxd6 22. Bxd6 Ng6 23. Nxe6 Re8 24. Bxb8 Rxe6 25. g3 The dust has settled and White has a rook and four! pawns for two knights. White's advantage is overwhelming.
25... Bb7 26. Rh2 Nc5 26... Bc6 was a little better, but really it does not make all that much difference at this point.
27. Rd8+ Kh7 28. Bd6 Ne4 29. h5 Nh8 30. h6 Nf7 The pawn is poisoned
31. Rd7 Rxd6 Desperation.
32. Rxf7


Dylan Loeb McClain is a journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He was a staff editor for The New York Times for 18 years and wrote the paper’s chess column from 2006 to 2014. He is now editor-in-chief of He is a FIDE master as well.